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Contract Law Minimalism
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Contract Law Minimalism

Price: $130.00
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Published Nov 2013 (Cambridge)
ISBN: 9781107021075. Hard Cover, 314 pages.

By Jonathon Morgan

Commercial contract law is in every sense optional given the choice between legal systems and law and arbitration. Its 'doctrines' are in fact virtually all default rules. Contract Law Minimalism advances the thesis that commercial parties prefer a minimalist law that sets out to enforce what they have decided - but does nothing else. The limited capacity of the legal process is the key to this 'minimalist' stance. This book considers evidence that such minimalism is indeed what commercial parties choose to govern their transactions. It critically engages with alternative schools of thought, that call for active regulation of contracts to promote either economic efficiency or the trust and co-operation necessary for 'relational contracting'. The book also necessarily argues against the view that private law should be understood non-instrumentally (whether through promissory morality, corrective justice, taxonomic rationality, or otherwise). It sketches a restatement of English contract law in line with the thesis.

  • Presents a distinctive thesis about the role and content of commercial contract law, which will appeal to students, scholars and practitioners studying contract and commercial law
  • Engages with a wide range of perspectives on contract law: philosophical (e.g. promissory, taxonomic, corrective justice), economic and socio-legal (e.g. social norms)
  • Explains and defends the 'neoformalist' approach to contract law developed in recent US scholarship

Jonathan Morgan, University of Cambridge 

Jonathan Morgan is Fellow of Corpus Christi College and University Lecturer in Law, University of Cambridge. He was previously Fellow and Tutor in Law at St Catherine's College, Oxford and Fellow and Director of Studies at Christ's College, Cambridge. He has for many years also taught English law at Warsaw University and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. His teaching and research interests range across the law of obligations and public law. 

Table of Contents

Part I. Clearing the Ground: 

1. Does instrumentalism 'fit' contract law? 

2. Justifying the instrumental approach 

Part II. Social Sciences and the Law of Contract:

3. A critique of neoclassical law and economics

4. Relational contracting: trust, business and law 

5. Extra-legal norms: the irrelevance of the law (of contract)?

Part III. Contract Law Minimalism: 

6. Defining contract law minimalism, or the 'new formalism'

7. Against regulation through contract law

8. The limited capacity of contract law 

9. What business wants: evidence from the 'markets for law'

10. A formalist restatement of commercial contract law.

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